Sunday, March 1, 2009


...must echo in my students dreams. It's so ingrained that I hear them repeating it along with "you can even use it for wrapping paper if you think it's that bad".

I feel so strongly about this principle because I know that every artist 'hits the wall' when a painting is at a certain stage. I have a video of Picasso working and saying, "Oh this is terrible, it's not going well at all." At that point you just want to crumple it up and begin anew but if you continue, thinking how to make it work, you will be learning. So, to have a sense of empowerment as opposed to defeat, we have to accept the challenge of making out painting 'work'.

Sandie Reily did even better than that ... she conceptualized taking the best parts of a painting and bringing them together creating something that became both mystical and magical...a work of art that I could get lost in ... wanting to linger for hours.

On a stretched western watercolor paper, Sandie created an abstract background of soft blended tones and interesting shapes. Then she applied her Tiger Lily blossoms from other paintings upon it having the collage extend past the borders in some areas. I wish my photograph could do the work's just so grand and glorious!!!

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There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.